Want to benefit wildlife? Let land go untended.
May 20, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Which environment would wildlife prefer, actively farmed and managed land, or untended natural land that to us might appear unkempt? Turns out that parts of the farm landscape that look overgrown and 'scruffy' are more important in supporting wildlife than they first appear, according to new research published today in Ecology Letters. The findings stem from an intensive study of an organic farm in Somerset by a team of scientists focussing on the complex ways in which animals and plants interact. First, the team of researchers from the University of Hull, the University of Bristol and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, created one of the world's largest terrestrial food-webs — a what-eats-what guide to the food-chain, and then developed a method of predicting what would happen to the whole food-web when habitats were lost.
Drought and Desertification - Global Response
May 19, 2013 09:11 AM - ANDREW BURGER, Global Warming is Real
Land degradation — more specifically drought and desertification — have become increasingly pressing problems for a growing number of countries around the world, threatening efforts to alleviate poverty, improve basic health and sanitation and address socioeconomic inequality, as well as spur agricultural and sustainable economic development. The only multilateral, international agreement linking development and environment to sustainable land management (SLM), high-level representatives from 195 nations will be gathering in Windhoek, Namibia from September 16-27 for the 11th bi-annual Conference of Parties (COP) to review implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Meeting for the first time in southern Africa, UNCCD delegates will review implementation of the convention to date and plan for the ensuing two years of programs and actions.
Keeping Produce Fresh Longer
May 15, 2013 01:49 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
Billions of dollars of fruits, vegetables, and flowers are thrown away each year as produce ripens too quickly and starts to rot in different markets before public buyers even buy them. Even though you might expect these products to start rotting to their death after they are first harvested, researchers explain that fruits, vegetables and flowers are still alive after they are picked. In fact, once these products are picked, they produce and release into the air ethylene gas, a crucial component for the ripening and blooming process.
Industrialized fishing has forced seabirds to change what they eat
May 15, 2013 08:47 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The bleached bones of seabirds are telling us a new story about the far-reaching impacts of industrial fisheries on today's oceans. Looking at the isotopes of 250 bones from Hawaiian petrels (Pterodroma sandwichensis), scientists have been able to reconstruct the birds' diets over the last 3,000 years. They found an unmistakable shift from big prey to small prey around 100 years ago, just when large, modern fisheries started scooping up fish at never before seen rates. The dietary shift shows that modern fisheries upended predator and prey relationships even in the ocean ocean and have possibly played a role in the decline of some seabirds.
Rocky Mountain Snow Packs
May 14, 2013 04:14 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Snow pack forms from layers of snow that accumulate in geographic regions and high altitudes where the climate includes cold weather for extended periods during the year. Snow packs are an important water resource that feed streams and rivers as they melt. Warmer spring temperatures since 1980 are causing an estimated 20 percent loss of snow cover across the Rocky Mountains of western North America, according to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey. The new study builds upon a previous USGS snow pack investigation which showed that, until the 1980s, the northern Rocky Mountains experienced large snow packs when the central and southern Rockies experienced meager ones, and vice versa. Yet, since the 1980s, there have been simultaneous snow pack declines along the entire length of the Rocky Mountains, and unusually severe declines in the north.
Agriculture and Livestock Remain Major Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
May 8, 2013 12:25 PM - Maddy Traynor, Worldwatch Institute
Global greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector totaled 4.69 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), an increase of 13 percent over 1990 emissions. By comparison, global CO2 emissions from transport totaled 6.76 billion tons that year, and emissions from electricity and heat production reached 12.48 billion tons, according to Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service.
Which emits more CO2, corn fields or home lawns?
April 28, 2013 08:46 AM - ScienceDaily
More carbon dioxide is released from residential lawns than corn fields according to a new study. And much of the difference can likely be attributed to soil temperature. The data, from researchers at Elizabethtown College, suggest that urban heat islands may be working at smaller scales than previously thought. These findings provide a better understanding of the changes that occur when agricultural lands undergo development and urbanization to support growing urban populations.
Ladybugs used as natural pest control inside Mall of America
April 26, 2013 08:28 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Why is it that we swat away every other bug that happens to land or crawl on us, but when a ladybug finds us, most of us observe it, count its spots, and maybe even blow it away and make a wish? Ladybugs have become popularized in children’s stories and in popular media, so we tend to have a positive perception of these coccinellids being a cute and harmless bug. But another thing that these bugs are known for is being a predator of aphids.
Kudzu Bugs May Be More Dangerous to Soybean Crops than Previously Thought
April 23, 2013 01:31 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
Many of us know kudzu as the invasive species that grows so rapidly it can destroy valuable forests by preventing trees from getting enough sunlight. Well now we have another "kudzu" species to be worried about — the kudzu bug. Also known as Megacopta cribraria, the kudzu bug is native to India and China, where it is an agricultural pest of beans and other legumes. After first being detected in Georgia in 2009, the kudzu bug has since expanded its territory as far north as Virginia. And according to new research from North Carolina State University, the kudzu bug may be able to expand to other parts of the country.
Earth Day - Hollywood Style
April 22, 2013 03:14 PM - BILL KEITH, The Credits
For years, Hollywood has celebrated Earth Day in order to raise awareness about environmental issues and to strike up a memorable dialogue about sustainable practices. And the film studios’ embrace of Earth Day has only strengthened over time. From PSAs to Paramount’s new micro-turbines, we take a look at the industry’s dedication to spotlighting one of the most important advocacy dates on the calendar. In 1990, the holiday got a pretty big boost from Hollywood when Time Warner called on some of their favorite talent to hammer home proactive things Americans could do to reduce their footprint on the planet. (Our favorites? A pony-tailed Kevin Costner teaching Meryl Streep how to recycle and Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser giving a press conference about the health of his patient, "Mother Earth.") But in 2013, the film business's efforts have far exceeded PSA productions, and the good news is that a lot of progressive practices like electric car fueling stations, composting, a ban on plastic bags in commissaries, and required carbon emission reporting have become all but de rigueur on most major lots. As each of the main studios shoot to achieve "100% sustainable" status in the coming years, the pressure is on to determine creative ways to be the first to get there, and then some. In honor of Earth Day, we take a look at some of the ways Hollywood is committed to 'greening' up their practices: